is Structured Controversy?
structured controversy in the classroom can take many forms. In
its most typical form, you select a specific problem. The closer
the problem is to multiple issues central to the course the better.
This strategy involves providing students with a limited amount
of background information and asking them to construct an argument
based on this information. This they do by working in groups.
is its purpose?
help students gain deep understanding of all positions related
to a controversial topic or issue
use of controversy
reasoned judgment, not mere factual knowledge
groups argue for and against an issue, then reach a consensus
that is supported by evidence
can I do it?
a discussion topic that has at least two well documented positions.
expectations for the group task.
the positions to be advocated with a summary of the key arguments
supporting the positions.
reference materials including a bibliography that support
and elaborate the arguments for the positions to be advocated.
students to groups of four.
each group into dyads who are assigned opposing positions
on the topic.
each group to reach consensus on the issue and turn in a group
report on which all members will be evaluated.
positions and argue the issue from those perspectives.
avoid problems, clearly communicate to the students the debate
rules that will guide the interaction.
critical of ideas, not people.
on the best decision, not on "winning."
Encourage everyone's position, even if you do not agree.
paraphrasing when you are not clear about what someone said.
to understand both sides of the issue.
can I adapt it?
Can be used as an alternative to a traditional debate.
students opportunities to have input into topic selection, defining
the positions and providing materials.